Tag: burn out

On the outer edge of coping.

On the outer edge of coping.

It’s been one of those horror weeks. My birthday was Friday just gone, and I am still recovering.

But that was almost a week ago now, wasn’t it? Shouldn’t you be all good now? Yes–and cue that intense sense of shame that I, a grown woman, am still struggling to function so many days later. It isn’t the alcohol that does me in, I wish it was–that would be so simple to fix. Don’t drink, recover fast. My alcohol hangover lasted only into the Sunday afternoon.

The rest of it I’m still wrestling with.

I did an enormous amount of hours at work in the two weeks prior, more than I’ve done in a long time. Organising the party was more stressful than I’d like to admit, they always are. I don’t know if I’ll bother again. I’ve got nine years before I have to start thinking about whether to have a 40th or not, maybe I’ll feel different then. Maybe I’ll be different then.

It’s unlikely. I was always that kid concerned that no one would show up to her birthday party. I get very worried that I’m not enough, not important enough that anyone will want to. Then I make mistakes like inviting the sorts of people that I want to connect with, and get crushed when they decline. I really don’t know how else to communicate with people that I’d like to know them better, outside of work or other social groups. I don’t know how to indicate that I want to be friends, so this is my way. I invite them along and hope they’re also interested in knowing me better.

And I should know better than that by now, but I don’t and all the same mistakes were made. I had a very good night in the end, and the quality of those who turned up for me was fantastic. Still, it’s just as well that I got merry enough before the end of the night to notice the absence of a few people who I’d been very excited to party with.

Because that is my other problem, I never seem to know the difference between someone accepting to be polite, and those who genuinely intend to come. They all make the same sounds and I get equally as excited. Then the moment comes and I’m confused. Why do people do that? Why do they make plans they don’t intend to keep? How is it more polite to leave me hanging, than to decline?

I don’t know, but the whole affair is stressful. I know people have lives well outside of my little party, and the apologies I could understand. None of my attempts to widen my social circle were accepted, though, and every decline there felt like a slap in the face. All of these were people with whom I had discussed socialising with before. Nothing ever came of it. Nothing ever does. I go home after these discussions excited that maybe I’ll be invited out, but it never happens—I see the photos pop up on Facebook and wonder again: why do people talk like they want to make plans, and then leave me out?

The only reasons I can ever come up with is I am forgettable, unimportant or just a burden to have around. Not fun.

So that cycle plagued me, the deep sense of insecurity that almost everyone invited was not my friend by choice, but someone who I had tagged onto through my family. That I wasn’t able to generate my own party crowd, because the people I know here in town aren’t interested in socialising with me. It’s a heavy feeling, and thankfully one that was offset by being surrounded by truly wonderful people on the day.

It’s no wonder that with weeks of that, by the time the excitement died on Sunday I was destroyed. I’ve been clenching my teeth a lot, my whole face aches from it. I had panic attacks more intense than any I’ve had in a long time on Monday, lost my sense of time and became completely convinced that the overnight shift I’d signed up for was next week–and it wasn’t. This I didn’t realise until it was too late, and thus began the next spiral.

How was it that I could still be this confused, overwhelmed, and tired after just a birthday party? Not just the next day, but for two days after? I felt like an absolute failure as an adult, a failure in my menial retail jobs, and any hope I had of returning to full time professional work was now a knife that stabbed into my self esteem. Will I ever be able to do the sort of work I want to do?

I don’t hate retail, but if I’m going to spend my life working then recovering from work, the work should be something that at least satisfies me. I have to devote my energy to work, there’s no choice there–I need to pay rent. It just seems to be the same endless cycle of the same to go home, sleep, collect enough money to pay rent, and repeat. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but my one hope is that I will find a job that is worth that sort of energy. But–if I don’t even feel like I’m managing retail, then how?

I already got fired once this year for not coping with the demand of a professional job. I want so badly to believe I’m capable. That I don’t have to live in this cycle forever. That I can find something that makes me feel like a success, and not a barely-scraping-by pile of shit.

Reality is a bitch.

Right now, everything is too loud. I want to watch TV but the sound screams on the lowest volume. I went to the supermarket and came out shaking, even though I kept my sunglasses on while I was in the store.

My doctor would say I pushed myself too hard, did too much work too suddenly. But what option do I have?

I’m just trying to keep up here. I know it will get better, because everything was fine two weeks ago. Maybe I just got so excited about that feeling of coping that I really did just run myself straight into the ground. Even though I did far less than my sister does in an average week, here I am struggling to function. Feeling somewhere between nauseous and tears, wishing that I could just stop the world for five minutes and catch my breath.

Hating myself because I can’t seem to keep up, no matter how hard I try. I do alright for a while, and then this–I hit the wall. I crash.

I’m on the outer edge of coping. Not drowning, but nor am I swimming confidently. Getting through one minute to the next, building up strength to run headlong into the next wall. That’s how I do.



When even Milo doesn’t work.

When even Milo doesn’t work.

I’m exhausted. I’m always exhausted. How can I be this exhausted?

Sit down for ten quiet minutes and my eyes will start to close. Try to avoid it by standing up instead, and my knees begin to buckle with the weight of my body. Focus comes in fits and bursts, I’m writing things in increments. Doing small, bite-sized tasks that make the most of these energy bubbles before they burst.

You’d be forgiven for thinking poor routine is to blame. I do function better at night than I do in the morning, my natural inclination is to make the most of that time. That’s only an option if I don’t have to work the next day, if there’s a gap of less than eight hours between when I get into bed and the time I have to start work, I stress instead of sleep. Lately I’ve not been in bed later than 11pm, and I still feel like I’ve pulled an all-nighter.

Weekends I push it out a little more to feel more productive in the day. Otherwise it’s just an endless cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat. I hate that hamster wheel feeling. There has to be more, there has to be something more than just surviving.

Surviving is all I seem to have the energy for, though. I come home from work so tired I’d go to bed at 6pm if that wasn’t weird. I have put myself to bed that early–and consequently forgot to eat that night. I forget to eat a lot of nights. I’m too tired to care about food.

I’m over-sensitive, too. Everything is a threat, an annoyance, another reason to be stressed. My shoulders are aching from being so tense all the time. I take things personally before my more rational side kicks in to correct me. It’s not about me, but it feels like it is and it hurts. I don’t understand what people mean, and it hurts.

A harmless joke leads to hours of me beating myself up because I took it seriously at first, and why couldn’t I see it was obviously not real? I should have known the voice on the phone was a work colleague–I’m so dumb. They must be laughing so hard at how dumb I am. I’m too tired for these jokes.

I feel dumb for all the times I couldn’t determine whether someone was serious or not. I feel dumb for all the times I didn’t understand what I was being asked. I feel dumb for all the things I simply don’t think to say or do, that it is a conscious effort to remember that people like someone to say ‘Thank you, that was delicious’ at the end of a meal. For all the things that are expected between people and I just don’t get them.

Some things, like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.. even ‘happy birthday’ I struggle with. Even though I’ve been told that no one minds if it’s ‘not genuine’ (which makes no sense to me, why would anyone enjoy inauthentic gratitutde?), the terms feel so repetitive and cliche that I don’t know how to say them and still express the genuine gratitude behind them. I try to work around the words, to use expression, inflection and alternate phrasing to demonstrate that I value them enough to put thought into how I thank them.

But if I don’t say the ‘magic words’, all that thought is for nothing. People would rather hear a hollow and too-repeated ‘Thanks’ than ‘That looks amazing! You’re the best!’ Why is that? Why are people so hung up on the idea that only a few words can truly represent gratitude? I’m doing my best to remember to say the right words at the right times, but I don’t always and when I get pulled up for it I feel so stupid.

Come on, these are things I should know. I was raised better than this. It’s not that I don’t feel it, but I get caught either in trying to compose words that adequately express gratitude (which I hate to admit, can leave me unable to speak sometimes), or it just doesn’t occur to me that I should say anything. Again: how could I not know? Maybe I get caught up in what’s happening and my attention has shifted too fast, or I don’t know–either way, I have to consciously stop and ask myself: ‘Did you say please? Did you say thank you?’

The more tired I am, the more I slip. I’m slipping a lot lately. Really silly mistakes, confusing information, reading things wrong. Earlier today a colleague walked in and said ‘Good morning!’ and what did I say? I said ‘Good night!’

I’m trying to focus. My eyes keep wandering across my desk, squinting with the light, and even though there’s only a few of us here today everyone is noisy. The air vents are noisy. Scraps of conversations that I’m not part of, both upstairs and down, are distracting. I’m going to spend lunch in a dark room, which is what I do now. That period of quiet rest stops me from breaking the phone when it rings in the second half of the day.

I really hate talking on phones. My phone stays on silent because if it rings I might actually throw it. Phone conversations are for when you need to know something right now, otherwise a text will do.

I don’t really know what to do right now. How can I be so burned out when all I’m trying to do is function like a proper adult?


I’m doing my best to keep going. I seem to have less and less to work with every day. The more I force it, the more broken I feel.

Come on, you stupid girl. No one said it was going to be easy. If you’re not succeeding, you’re not trying hard enough. Everyone else gets by. Why the fuck can’t you?

I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m trying. I can’t keep up. I don’t know how people work through the week, do things after work and also on the weekends. I don’t know how anyone manages what they do without collapsing into a pile of shaking sobs on a regular basis. I don’t know how people remember to eat or do other regular tasks without someone (or an alarm) to remind them.

I’m trying so hard to be normal, to do normal things, to work and socialise the way I’m expected to. I’m trying to remember the rules and say the right things, to not break down, to keep my crazy out of everyone’s way.

I’m trying, and I’m failing.